Hammond: I will ban military chiefs who break lobbying rules

 

Retired military commanders could be barred from the corridors of power after the MoD launched an inquiry into claims that some of them have used their access to lobby for lucrative arms deals. The president of the Royal British Legion, a decorated Falklands veteran, may become a high-profile casualty in the recriminations which have followed the revelations.

Lieutenant-General Sir John Kiszely was one of a group of former senior officers who were secretly filmed apparently boasting of their closeness to ministers, current heads of the military and MPs. He is alleged to have said he could use his position at the organisation for business purposes. He would be meeting the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary, and the head of the British military at a Remembrance Sunday ceremony and offered the possibility of "commercial people" being present as the Legion's guests.

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday he would not hesitate to "shut the door" if it were proved that they had been using their positions to lobby in breach of rules.

The undercover sting, by The Sunday Times newspaper, also focused on Lord Dannatt, the former Chief of General Staff; Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, the former chief of Army procurement; and the former Fleet Commander, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar. They had been approached by reporters, one of them a young woman, pretending to be representatives of a South Korean arms manufacturer.

Last night, the Legion said it had launched an investigation into the allegations against Lt-Gen Kiszely, the result of which will be sent to the organisation's trustees. Chris Simpkins, the director-general, stressed that there was "a code of conduct that addresses the issue of conflict of interest". He said the honorary position of national president was covered by the code and should not be used for commercial gain.

Lt-Gen Kiszely said: "I have always kept my role as national president of the Royal British Legion separate from my business interests."

Mr Hammond said: "There are many, many reasons why it is sensible for the MoD to maintain contact with retired officers... but if they are abusing that access for commercial purposes then we will have to tighten it up or maybe even shut it down."

All four former commanders have denied any wrongdoing.

Sources close to Lt-Gen Applegate said he had informed the MoD about the work he was carrying out on behalf of an Israeli defence company and had been cleared to continue doing so. "At no stage did I lobby or agree to a covert political lobbying campaign."

Lord Dannatt acknowledged that he offered to "facilitate conversations" but rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer, insisting that he had "no inclination" to undertake any lobbying that would contravene the rules.

Line of fire: generals under investigation

Lord [Richard] Dannatt, former head of the Army Alleged to have offered to sidestep a ban on discussion of a £400m contract by speaking to a top MoD civil servant, an old school friend. He denied breach of the rules and said he rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer.

Lieutenant-General Sir John Kiszely, President of the Royal British Legion General Kiszely, 64, a former director of the Defence Academy, is said to have offered to use his current role to push his client's agenda with the PM and other senior figures. He denies wrongdoing, and says he has always kept his British Legion role separate from his business interests.

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar Former Commander in Chief of the Fleet is reported to have offered to break a two-year ban on lobbying imposed on personnel leaving the service after being asked to work for a South Korean company. He denies breaking rules, insisting he had official approval.

Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, Quartermaster-General Said to have admitted a secret lobbying campaign for a £500m military programme on behalf of an Israeli arms company despite being barred from lobbying. Sources said he had been cleared by the MoD.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen